As a kid, I thought how awesome it would be to be able to talk to a machine as Captain Picard did with the Enterprise. Google, Apple, and Amazon are racing to make this a reality. So far, Amazon is closest with the introduction of the Echo-Auto but our focus here is not to discuss products, it’s how to be found during a voice search.
When it comes to business, voice search is primarily used to find a local service, business or a product to buy online. For local searches, getting directions is typically the next step. If you are in Home Services (i.e. plumbing) then proximity to the user could be a deciding factor for them.
How does this apply to your business?
The market is showing that people are quickly adopting voice search with research showing that 41% of adults use voice search at least once a day. Trends show that at least 50% of searches are done by voice in 2020. With half of all searches conducted via voice, your business better be ready to be found!
How do you make sure your business can be found from a local voice search? To answer this, you have to understand where each assistant gets its information and what share of the searches each one has. Check out the table below:
|Assistant||Source||Usage Market Share|
|Siri||Apple Maps Connect supplemented with Yelp||36%|
|Google Assistant||Google My Business||36%|
|Alexa||Yelp & Yext||25%|
|Cortana||Bing Places for Business & Yelp||19%|
Notice that Siri and Google Assistant have the majority of the Usage Market Share (36% each), followed by Alexa (25%), and then Cortana (19%). This may be surprising since, when it comes to in-home devices, Amazon has had the majority of the market share, but the number of deployed assistants also include smartphones.
Claim/Create Your Listing
The first thing you need to do is claim or create your listing in each source. The first ones you should tackle are Google My Business (GMB) and Apple Maps Connect since these have the largest usage, followed by Yelp and then Bing Places for Business.
Now that you have accurate listings, you’re all done. Just kidding! This only makes you eligible.
Optimize Your Listings
You must optimize your listing. In other words, you must accurately provide all the information that these listings ask for and keep it current. This even includes providing the absolute correct version of your URL (i.e. http or https, with or without www, etc.). On the same note, only provide information that is useful. For example, only provide an address if customers physically visit your business. For businesses that service customers at their home, there is an option to indicate your service area instead.
Other common optimization considerations include photos and reviews. Upload good quality photos of your business, which include employees doing work, your logo, interior & exterior photos of your business. Do Not Use Stock Photos! The reason you do not want to use stock photos in your listing is because it should accurately represent you because people can easily tell which photos are authentic and which were purchased. Furthermore, stock photos make your business look corporate and not local which can send the wrong message to your audience.
When it comes to reviews, it is essential to respond in a timely manner. It is just as important to respond to legitimate bad reviews as it is to good ones and to do this quickly. It is also important to report false reviews to make your listing as clean as possible. Important: You cannot report bad reviews only because they make your business look bad. There has to be a clear violation of policy for a review to be removed.
The Biggest Factor: It’s One You Cannot Control
So, now you have completed the hard work on optimizing your listings. You have great reviews, all the information is correct, so now when anybody searches for your service/product locally (i.e. “near me”), you’re guaranteed to be listed. Unfortunately, this is not the case because the single most important factor is proximity – How close is your business to the searcher.
There is so much more to voice search that we did not cover here. We only touched on local searches (i.e. “near me”) which tend to be map searches which is why we focused on listing optimization. This is a subject definitely worth revisiting.